Lopes traverse campus in many modes
By Theresa Smith
GCU News Bureau
Photos by David Kadlubowski
Freshman Trey Johnson is a multi-tasking blur on and around the track: a sprinter, a hurdler and a long jumper. Yet when it comes to getting around the palm tree-lined, 260-acre Grand Canyon University campus, Johnson rests his swift feet, yet moves even faster on a FreeGo electric bike.
The 6-foot-1 former Arizona Interscholastic Association state hurdling and long-jump champion from Tolleson High School effortlessly rides around campus.
“It is unique, something people look at, and it is fast enough for me to get from Diamondback (Residence Hall) to track for practice,’’ Johnson said. “People want to ride it and see what it is all about, it’s pretty fun.’’
The FreeGo, sleek scooters, swift skateboards, colorful beach cruiser bikes and old-fashioned lace-up roller skates are among the numerous modes of transportation utilized by students at GCU.
Melissa Shalkowski, a sophomore from Aurora, Colo., rides a bright aqua-colored beach cruiser.
“My Dad (William) bought it for me when I was moving in,’’ she said. “I let my friends borrow it when they don’t want to walk, so it is kind of a community thing in my room. I love it.”
Starla Lawrence, a freshman from Illinois, personalized her Razor scooter with a pink basket attached on the handle bars. It holds her water bottle, or a coffee or her cell phone. She carries everything else in her backpack.
“I love it; it is so much fun,’’ she said. “It is so much easier getting around with this instead of walking.’’
Lawrence’s longest typical journey is from the new Colangelo College of Business Building on one side of campus to the Antelope Gym lecture halls.
One of the most unusual modes of transportation is the old-fashioned, white and pink, laced-up roller skates worn by Adrienne Kalehuawehe, a junior from Hawaii. The professional writing major from the Honors College purchased the skates in August as an early birthday present to herself.
“I had a pair of Rollerblades, but I outgrew the style and I wanted pink Chicago roller skates,” Kalehuawehe said. “I’ve been skating since I was about 6 years old. I remember skating outside of my house in Kihei when I lived on Maui, which, honestly, weren’t the best skates but were skates nonetheless. My dad, stepmom and stepsister got into skating, as well, so we would go skating at the skating rink in Kihei during the summers by the beach.”
Along with nostalgia, Kalehuawehe was motivated by a need for a little speed.
“I do think that this is a great alternative to walking because I get to class faster,” she said. “I also need to find a better way to avoid uneven surfaces because I almost fell. I have overheard a few people say ‘Wow, those are nice skates!’ or ‘That’s so cool!’ as I skated to class. When I skated to my friend’s dorm, there was a guy who complimented how nice my skates looked, which was actually really nice.”
Beyond the pedestrian mode, skateboarding is the most popular way Lopes move from restaurants to residence halls to classroom buildings. Typically, male students ride skateboards more than female students, which is why Allison Jones, a sophomore from Portland, Ore., stood out on a sunny late September day.
“I think it’s a really easy way to get around campus, and when I’m late for class it really helps me to get there on time,” said the Diamondback resident, who has one class at the Natural Sciences Building and others at the CCOB.
The balance and dexterity required for skateboarding is sometimes lost on Jones.
“I fall all the time,’’ she said, laughing. “I usually play it cool. I act like it didn’t happen. Everybody else falls, so it is not like it is just me.’’
While most skateboard falls are minor, Madison Swaithes’ new transportation device serves as a cautionary symbol.
The freshman from Surprise has been forced to considerably slow down. She rolls on a medical scooter, walking on one leg with the opposite knee and braced lower leg propped up on a horizontal pad. At her new pace, it takes her 10 minutes to travel from the Student Union to her residence hall.
“I was riding my longboard and it shot out from under me and I broke my ankle,’’ she said, noting that she also tore two ankle ligaments, which were surgically repaired with a plate and six screws.
Prior to surgery, the pre-med major was nerve-wracked.
“I want to operate on other people, but the fact that it was happening to me was 10 times scarier,’’ she said. “But it was also actually cool because I have studied some stuff, so when it was happening to me, I actually understood it.’’
Her friend, Isabelle Trainor, a freshman from Harrisburg, S.D., helpfully maintained the slow pace and occasionally carries Swaithes’ excess books.
“I used to longboard, but I haven’t used it since she (Madison) got hurt,’’ Trainor said.
For Swaithes, the experience — from the agony of falling to the anxiety of surgery to a painful post-operation period to struggling across campus initially on crutches — also has convinced her not to tempt fate on a skateboard.
“I will either walk or ride a scooter,” she said.
To each his own and her own at GCU, so long as the Lopes get to where they want to be.
Contact Theresa Smith at (602) 639-7457 or firstname.lastname@example.org